By Polly Keary, Editor
Chinese rod puppet theater is a form of theater more than 1,000 years old, and is exceedingly rarely seen in the United States.
But Nov. 10, the nation’s only rod puppet theater company, Dragon Art Studio of Portland, Ore., will give a performance of the ancient, traditional Chinese theater at the Index School in Index.
It’s part of a series of cultural performances to come to Index in recent years, the result of a grant won by Northwest Heritage Resources.
“We’ve had cowboy poets, celtic fiddlers and a marvelous Russian a cappella singing group,” said Louise Lindgren of Index, who is helping to organize the performance. “We get these about twice a year now.”
Dragon Art Studio was founded by Zhengli Xu and his wife and partner, Yuqin Wang, who before moving to Oregon in 1996 were well known puppet theater performers in China for 30 years.
They have performed all over the world, and have been given the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest award given by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“How much more unique can you get?” said Lindgren, who says that the Index School is always packed for these events. “They tell stories from Chinese history but they are related to present day issues. They use humor and historic fact and folk tales.”
The ticket price is $5 at the door.
The event is a fundraiser to pay for upgrades to the Index Historical Museum, which this winter will get a large installation of a model railroad passing through a model of Index.
The museum also houses an interactive mapping program that allows visitors to see the changes in the town, decade by decade.
The maps have been useful for more than just history lessons, though. Once when a climber was trapped on a ledge near Index, a local climber was able to pinpoint the stranded climber’s probable location using the maps, and the climber was rescued.
The proceeds of the puppet theater show will help pay for programs and equipment for the small museum.
The show will take place Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Index School in Index, starting at 2 p.m.